Industry must show it is taking growing media seriously, says Bragg

Defra growing-media representative Judith Stewart is writing a review for ministers of progress to date on peat reduction by June 2015, according to former Horticultural Development Company chairman Neil Bragg.

Bragg: responsible criteria
Bragg: responsible criteria

He said there is a "need to demonstrate the industry has taken the issue seriously and is proactive" and a "need for a fair and level playing field" across Europe on peat use. But there is "no way" peat use deadlines can be changed for 2020 for retailers and 2030 for growers, as set out in a 2011 white paper.

Bragg wants to show Defra that its peat-reduction wishes have not been ignored by the industry and, having worked with NGOs and retailers with the Growing Media Task Force, "this is what we've come up with - a responsible criteria for the future".

The 2015 deadline for ending council use of peat was "never going to be realistic" because of the short time frame from 2011, he added.

A £1m five-year project to introduce growing media peat compost alternatives to the horticulture industry began last month. The ADAS trials use a model based on characteristics of the raw materials to predict their performance in blends.

The task force is developing a calculator that works out the extent to which growing medium ingredients have been sourced responsibly against seven criteria including energy and water use in extraction and production, how efficiently raw materials are used and renewability.


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